ALDAMER, Shafi; Richard Mortel; Humberto da Silveira.
The Visit of HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and the Earl of Athlone to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 25 February – 18 March 1938, With a Summary of Saudi-British Relations.
First and only edition, extremely uncommon, Copac locates copies in BM, Durham, Exeter, National Art Library at the V&A only, OCLC adds Singapore National Library, and a copy in the Jefferson City School District Library, Colorado. Beautifully presented first publication of the photographs taken by HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, on her 1938 historic state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, undertaken with her husband the Earl of Athlone, and her son, Lord Frederick Cambridge. The countess, Queen Victoria’s longest surviving grandchild, was the first British royal to visit the country, and the only British royal to meet King Abdulaziz. The tour took in Riyadh, Hofuf and Dammam, and Princess Alice met Noura bint Abdul Rahman, sister of the King and other members of the Saudi royal family. The images show the kingdom right on the cusp of its major transformation, oil was struck in significant commercial quantities for the first time at Dammam No. 7 in the same year. The original photographs are in the collection of the King Abdulaziz Public Library, and had never previously been published. Most were shot in black and white, but the few taken in colour are believed to be the first colour photos to be taken of the Kingdom, certainly predating the advent of Aramco’s well-resourced photographic department by several years. This copy enhanced by the inclusion of two original press photographs depicting the party’s outward journey from London via Cairo. The first (203 154 mm) with mounted caption slip verso reading; “Kin of British Royalty visit Saudi-Arabia … Princes Alice, Countess of Athlone, waving good-bye at St. Pancreas [sic] Station as she … set out on the first leg of [her] trip to Saudi-Arabia. Mussolini is said to have objected to the trip on the grounds it was British propaganda in the Near East”. Marked up for publication in vermilion grease pencil on recto. The second (179 232 mm) captioned: “English nobility in Cairo – Earl of Athlone, Uncle of King George VI, and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone are pictured on their arrival here en route to Saudi Arabia, a trip disapproved by Italy’s Mussolini … At right with the couple is Ahmed Hassanin Pasha, who represented King Farouk of Egypt. Beside the Countess is Sir Miles Lampson, British Ambassador to Cairo. The Earl is walking behind with Gen. Sir George Weir, Chief of British Troops in Egypt”. The party is pictured walking along the platform at Ramses Station. The great Libyan Desert explorer Hassanein Bey, had accompanied Rosita Forbes to the Oasis of Kufra in 1920-1. With Acme Agency and Newspaper Enterprise Association stamps verso. Both a little cockled but remaining very good. Unusual and attractive.
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Quarto. Original grey cloth, title in toned grey to the front board, publisher’s device similarly to the tail of the spine. With the dust jacket. Profusely illustrated from the Countess’s photographs, 2 of them in colour. Text in English throughout. Very good in jacket with minor crumpling along the edges.